Updates on STAAR administration

In last Friday’s weekly wrap up for Teach the Vote, ATPE reported on serious testing glitches that occurred last week as schools were administering STAAR tests to students. Some students’ answers were lost during the test, which caused the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to release two news statements about the problems. TEA advised in the second of those two statements last week that districts would not be required to retest those students who were affected by the technical malfunction, leaving retesting decisions to be made at each district’s local discretion.

Today, Commissioner of Education Mike Morath provided teachers, students, and parents with some important updates as part of his comments to the State Board of Education. Approximately 14,200 students were affected by last week’s problems with the tests. Of those students, many were special education students taking the STAAR-A test. Morath also acknowledged that there had been issues with some of the written materials sent to districts ahead of the test, both errors within the documents and some shipping errors.

The commissioner also gave some idea of what TEA is doing moving forward. First, he reaffirmed the agency’s commitment to limit any damage done by these technical issues. He said the agency would be removing affected students from the calculation of each district’s accountability rating, and the students’ STAAR report cards would be amended to reflect the error. The commissioner added that he does not have regulatory authority to waive the high stakes graduation requirement associated with any end-of-course (EOC) exams that were affected. Morath also noted that voluntary retakes school districts may have chosen to pursue at their own discretion have been completed or nearly completed. Lastly, the commissioner addressed the state’s test vendor, ETS. He expressed that the issues last week were a breach of the vendor’s contractual performance standards, would result in a financial penalty to ETS, and might also trigger a look into rebidding the contract next year, especially if there are any significant issues with the May administration of STAAR tests.

On a related note, the commissioner also announced at today’s SBOE meeting a change in plans regarding the recording and timing of testing breaks that has recently caused significant angst amongst teachers/test administrators. Morath shared that the timing of student breaks will be discontinued for the May STAAR administration. Test administrators will still be recording the total amount of time each student takes to complete the test, in 15 minute intervals, but they will not be required to record any breaks (bathroom or otherwise) that students take during the test.

UPDATE as of April 11, 2016: Today, the Texas Education Agency sent school districts the following communication regarding monitoring of student breaks during STAAR tests:

SUBJECT: Recording Break Time on STAAR Assessments
April 11, 2016
To the District and ESC Testing Coordinators Addressed:

The purpose of this email is to notify you that districts will not be required to record the total break time for students taking the May 2016 State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) assessments. Test administrators will not need to mark the total break time columns found in the AGENCY USE field on the student answer document. Average break time recorded during the March administrations will be factored into the time-to-test data from the May administrations.

Test administrators will still need to record the total testing time in the AGENCY USE field on the student answer document. For single subject tests, the test administrator will mark column A and will leave column B blank. For two subject tests, the test administrator will mark columns A and C on the student answer document before it is submitted for scoring and will leave columns B and D blank.

District personnel will be notified when the revised Recording Time-to-Test Information on Answer Documents Appendices in the 2016 STAAR Test Administrator Manuals are posted to the TEA website at https://tea.texas.gov/student.assessment/staar/manuals/.

Contact the Texas Assessment Support Center by telephone at (855) 333-7770, or by email at STAAREOC@ets.org or STAAR3-8@ets.org for questions or assistance.

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8 thoughts on “Updates on STAAR administration

  1. Edujane

    I don’t believe it was the STAAR Alt as there is no such thing. There is an Alt 2 which didn’t start until this week and there is a STAAR A-which is an accommodated version of the STAAR that is administered on the computer. It is important to keep this information straight because the mistake takes away from the focus of your article and demonstrates a disconnect between those that are lobbying and representing teachers and the educators that are actually on the front lines.

    1. Jennifer Canaday

      Yes, it was the STAAR-A test, and that correction has been made in the author’s post above. Thank you.

  2. Jena Jones

    Where can I find the original article stating that we don’t have to record breaks? Was it released directly from TEA?

    1. Jennifer Canaday

      TEA will be releasing something soon, we are told. We’ll post that document when it’s available. All we have at this point are the comments made by the commissioner during this week’s SBOE meeting to indicate the agency’s intent. Stay tuned!

  3. Sata Fields

    They can take your certificate over test security, but they can’t provide a stable testing condition? It affected numerous special education students with STAAR-A. Odds are these kids have needs that extend beyond academics, such as social skills (social maneuvering, anxieties, etc.).The company controlling these tests should feel ashamed. That is THE MOST STRESSFUL time of their academic time and we are there to pick them up with encouragement. Then, they lose their scores, they should lose their jobs like we can. Accountability should be transparent. They should tell us somebody got fired for that. HOW DARE THEY ASSUME WE SIT QUIET! We, as special ed. teachers advocate daily for these kids and we see what happened. SHAME ON THEM!

  4. Ambi

    At my campus, we had NO students that took the STAAR A test effected by this technology glitch. Our 20 students that were affected took the Regular STAAR test and it was only for the English 1 test (the first day). All but 2 students chose to log back in to check their answers. Some students didn’t have to answer any questions that were lost. Others only had very few that didn’t get “captured” by the ETS server. Hopefully, May will be better. I will say that issues started occurring the day before testing began when ETS took the online management system down for maintenance twice for a period of time. During that time we were unable to get completely prepared for the testing the next day.
    On a positive note, we did not have to resume students from a different computer when the system “locked them out” like we did with Pearson. The students simply re-entered their login information.

  5. Pingback: Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: April 15, 2016 | Teach the Vote

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